December 13, 1809

On This Date in! in 1809, Ephraim McDowell performed the first abdominal surgery in Danville, KY on 46 year old Jane Todd Crawford. On December 13, 1809 Dr. McDowell was called to the home of Mrs. Crawford and he quickly diagnosed her with an ovarian tumor, in effect giving her a death sentence. She begged him to keep her from a slow and extremely painful death. (She wanted him to give her drugs that would end her life.) He believed he could remove the tumor and possibly save her life and told her. He also explained that he would be cutting into her abdomen and excising the tumor. She quickly agreed. He also said that he would only do perform the surgery at his residence, which was 60 miles away. Mrs. Crawford crawled on the back of a horse and followed him home, where that day the surgery was performed, without anesthesia or antiseptics, as neither was known at the time. The surgery took 25 minutes and a 22 pound ovarian tumor was removed and Mrs. Crawford quickly recovered and lived another 32 years. Although anesthesia was unknown at that time, leather restraints were, and they were used during the surgery.

About Joel Byers

Born in North Georgia and educated at some very fine public institutions. Real education started after graduating from college and then getting married and raising two boys. Has the ability to see the funny and absurd in most things and will always remark on it, even if it means getting the stink-eye from his victims.
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